Chavis K’ville exit to be a quiet one
Posted: Friday, November 28, 2008 11:10 am
By: By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis plans to make a quiet exit.
With the exit of Phillip Fulmer as Vols coach, the man known to colleagues and players as “Chief” likely will be out of a job as well.
“The easiest thing for me would be to leave the way I came in,” Chavis said. “When I was hired by coach (Johnny) Majors 20 years ago, there were about two lines in the newspaper about the hiring. That’s me. I like it better that way.”
Chavis has worked with mostly the same group of assistants since assuming the defensive coordinator’s role in 1995 after coaching the defensive line and linebackers.
Defensive line coach Dan Brooks was hired in 1994 and defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell came a year later.
The relative newcomer, secondary coach Larry Slade, was hired in 1999 to replace Kevin Ramsey.
“Usually when you’ve had the success that we’ve had, people move on. That’s been the one thing that’s been a little bit unique about this situation,” Chavis said. “There’s not a single guy on our defensive staff that hasn’t had multiple opportunities to better themselves. They wanted to be here at Tennessee because Tennessee’s a special place to be,” he said.
The Vols defense has been finished among the top three in the Southeastern Conference in eight of Chavis’ 13 seasons, and it appears it will do so again this year.
Even though Tennessee has struggled to find a win in what’s been one of its most miserable seasons this year, the Vols rank sixth overall in the nation and second in the SEC in total defense, allowing just 269.91 yards per game.
“I’ve been around a lot of good ones, but John Chavis has got more defense in his mind, we’re more multiple than anybody I’ve ever worked with,” Brooks said.
Chavis doesn’t expect to be retained by the next Tennessee coach and isn’t even sure what he wants to do after this season.
The almost always stoic coach knows one thing, though.
He’s not interested in getting caught up in what will assuredly be an emotional scene after the Vols (4-7, 2-5 SEC) host Kentucky (6-5, 2-5) Saturday night.
“I can tell you what I’m going to do … I’ve already talked to my players. I’m going to come in, I’m going to get dressed and I’m going to go home,” Chavis said.
COBB-NOBBING: Coach Phillip Fulmer said he knew Kentucky freshman quarterback Randall Cobb would be good, but he’s still surprised just how good he is.
“It’s probably surprised me that it’s been that much impact,” Fulmer said. “It’s not surprising in the sense that I didn’t think he could do it. I think he got the opportunity because of an injury, I guess, or inefficiencies at their (quarterback) position. But I think he’s done extremely well.”
An Alcoa native, Cobb said he wasn’t heavily recruited by the Vols.
Since landing at Kentucky, he made an immediate impact, first as a receiver and now as starting quarterback in a retooled spread offense.
He’s thrown for 519 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 294 yards and seven touchdowns.
Fulmer indicated that it was Cobb that wasn’t interested in Tennessee.
He didn’t feel like he would fit in to what we were doing, or he would fit into the Kentucky system a little bit better. That’s what he said to me,” he said.
HE’S BAAACK: Saturday marks another return by Kentucky coach Randy Sanders to Knoxville.
Sanders, the Wildcats’ quarterbacks coach, spent seven years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Tennessee and played for the Vols.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis said he can see certain things in Kentucky’s offense that are inspired by Sanders, most notably the strong fundamentals of the quarterbacks’ play.
“That’s been a trademark at Tennessee for a long, long time,” Chavis said.
Sanders was the offensive coordinator at UT when the Volunteers won the national championship 10 years ago.
He was also with the team through bad times including the 2005 season.
ORANGE SLICES: Tennessee holds a 23-game winning streak over Kentucky. Coach Phillip Fulmer’s record over the Wildcats is 15-0. … Safety Eric Berry needs only 15 interception return yards to set the career interception return yardage record. Florida State’s Terrell Buckley now holds the record of 501 yards. … Tennessee will honor 24 seniors on Saturday in pregame activities before facing Kentucky.
SMOKEY SEZ: “I think the number one reason to go out and play our best game of the season is for the brother that we play next to right beside us,” Tennessee quarterback B.J. Coleman said of what the Vols feel they have to play for against Kentucky.